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Did an NBA Legend Influence Allen Iverson's "Practice!?" Rant?

    The infamous "PRACTICE!?" rant from Allen Iverson is possibly the most well-known press-conference in the history of sports (Along side Herm Edwards). Iverson and 76ers had just lost to the Celtics in the deciding game 5 in the first round. Paul Pierce had torched the 76ers as he scored 46 points as they blew the 76ers out of the playoffs (120-87). 

      After the game, Iverson made his way to the press-conference, and of course, like any other athlete after a loss in the playoffs, was very frustrated. The combination of the loss, and the somewhat pushy reporter really pushed him over the edge. The only question I have is why he ranted about practice? Why didn't he rant about the game? 

        Since that day in early May, nearly 12 years ago, many theories have come out of why Allen Iverson made the rant. He was feuding with Larry Brown, the season was very disappointing (43-39, loss in the first round of the playoffs), and the reporter didn't seem to have much sympathy. 

        However, there are two reasons that are not widely known in the sports world. Allen gave the first reason in a recent interview: "The media - they had no idea my best friend had just been killed." 

        In this case, if people knew this, there might be more sympathy. Anyone grieving, especially grieving a best friend, can do and say stupid things. 

        The second reason is an interesting theory. There had already been rumors of an NBA legend influencing Iverson to make the speech. However, no one was sure. That was until nearly a year ago. NBA legend, Gary Payton, said in an interview with Fox Sports, "We had a little too many...He asked how I don't get hurt and stay always on the court. My coach, George Karl, did not let me practice. So that was it, you have to stop practicing!" 

        Then, later that season, Allen made the infamous practice rant. Gary says he saw the rant and thought, "Oh don't say it like that!" 

        Gary reportedly says Larry Brown came up to him later that year (Probably when Gary and the Sonic's played Allen and the 76ers) and said, "Look what you created." 

         All in all, Iverson was influenced by multiple events and people. Larry Brown and Gary Payton told different opinions on practice, and Iverson listened to Payton. Iverson's best friend had just been killed, and the reporter was a little pushy in the interview. But I still wonder if Gary and Allen had not been hanging out, and "had a little too many," if this interview would have ever occurred.... 

Gary Payton's Interview With Fox Sports: